Since starting GovLoop, I've received a lot of questions from people. The two most common questions are:
-Why Did You Create GovLoop?
-Why Do We Need GovLoop When We Already Have X (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Trade Mags, Discussion
Both are valid and good questions. So here are my Top 10 Reasons I Created GovLoop:
10 - Meet New People - While Facebook/LinkedIn are great, it is mainly about staying in connect with people you already know. I wanted to meet and connect innovative people in the government community that I don't already know. (But GovLoop has privacy controls if you don't want to do this). Personally, I've already met a ton of innovative people and found a number of great blogs through GovLoop.
9 - Calendar of Good Gov't Events - There are lots of great government organizations that put on a ton of events. However, the events and organizations are siloed and it is hard to keep track of all the activities going on. With GovLoop, any one can update their government event to share with the members.
8 - Better Discussions - I've participated in government discussion boards and have generally been disappointed. Most boards end up focusing on topics like maximizing TSP or how to get hired as a border patrol agent. Other boards just turned into anonymous ranting against bosses and their agencies. Facebook and LinkedIn both lack true blog features. Plus, Facebook group discussions are limited, often inactive, and siloed while LinkedIn groups lack a discussion feature (Q&As can work sometimes). I wanted a place to have substantive discussions such as "What's the Future of Gov't Service" and How to Implement Web 2.0."
7 - Anonymity vs Openness - One of the disadvantages of most discussion boards/comment threads is the anonymity. You don't know who you are talking with and their background. GovLoop improves this through social profiles so you know people's background and what they look like. And for those that still need anonymity, you can keep your profile very limited.
6 - Connect Job Seekers with Employers - As co-founder of Young Government Leaders, I am asked for the same advice by new people every month. Recent grads (and actually people of all ages) want to work for the gov't and ask me how to find a job. Gov't agencies complain how hard it is to get great talent and ask how to improve recruitment. Hopefully, GovLoop will help connect the two, offer suggestions to both job seekers and agencies, and get more smart, innovative thinkers into government.
5 - Resources - When I first started with the government, I didn't know there was something called "the government community." I didn't know there were trade magazine, discounts, professional organizations, and professional development events that would help my career. Along the way, I've gathered a list of great resources for new and exciting gov't employees that I hope people will use to get smart quickly. Eventually, I will move this to a wiki but for now, send me any resources I'm missing.
4 - Break Down Silos - Government can easily be siloed. You can be stuck in your agency. Your community (HR, IT, Policy, etc). Or only talk to only one sector of government (federal, state, local). But I noticed in my participation in conferences, there were a lot of great ideas and action going on in a wide range of places. However, they often did not know about each other but would always be excited when they could make the connections and learn from each other. Hopefully, GovLoop will break down some silos and increase sharing across all levels.
3 - Outlet for Ideas - Most people who work in the gov't community are passionate about public service. Additionally, they have a lot of ideas on improving government. However, these ideas may not always have a voice at your agency. This could be due to your organization structure, budget constraints, or. GovLoop offers an outlet for people to share their ideas from the inside on how to improve government. I think Kriste stated this perfectly in the comments here.
2 - Central Hub - It is hard to keep track of all the good stuff happening in government. As discussed earlier with calendar, the various government organizations are siloed so it is hard to keep track of what is going on. Also, discussions are stuck in their siloes. For example, rather than just federal web managers talking about social media wouldn't it be cool to open up the dialogue to academics/students who may be innovating, digital natives who use social media daily, as well as state/local innovators who have ideas.
1 - Open Up the Community - Great ideas come from everywhere. However, a lot of the places where the gov't community connects and discusses ways to improve government have geographical and time constraints. As I attended more of these events, I thought more about the gov't employee who couldn't attend events after work activities as they had to pick up their kids. Or all the govies outside of D.C. who couldn't attend these events. Or have funding to attend these great conferences elsewhere. Or the just retired fed who lives in NC but would still like to share his/her ideas. Or the academic/student living in Madison or Lawrence. GovLoop opens up the community and eliminates these restrictions (you just need Internet).
Bonus Reason - I Needed a Hobby - Finally, I needed a hobby. My partner is a tenure-track assistant professor and so most weekday nights (after work) and weekends we spend at a coffee shop while she writes her papers. Rather than just read PerezHilton.com, I thought I would do something valuable with my time.
So those are my reasons for starting GovLoop. What are your reasons for joining? What do you find valuable? Any suggestions for improvement.